The Competent Authority: A funny and sophisticated satire

The funniest satire on modern India

Published: Aug 24, 2013 07:23:19 AM IST
Updated: Aug 23, 2013 10:57:45 AM IST
The Competent Authority: A funny and sophisticated satire

What would be the state of the nation if a deranged bureaucrat was the one who ruled India? Shovon Chowdhury’s The Competent Authority explores precisely that possibility. India is a gloomy place in the novel, which is set in the near future and in an India devastated by nuclear attacks. But amid all the devastation, chaos and idiocy are four utterly unheroic heroes who gang up against The Competent Authority.

The world of this novel is fabulously imagined and Chowdhury has the rare gift of being able to make even the bleakest scenarios seem ridiculously funny. Can a 12-year-old mutant, a corrupt policeman, a dejected CBI officer and the last surviving member of Al-Qaeda triumph against a mad bureaucrat?

All we’ll tell you is that this is perhaps the funniest and most sophisticated satire on modern India that we’ve read in a while.

The Competent Authority
By Shovon Chowdhury, Aleph,
454 pages, Rs 495

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(This story appears in the 06 September, 2013 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Urmila

    Thanks for this review. What I like about this review is that it doesn\'t give away the whole story or all the punch-lines... leaving it for readers to find out for themselves.

    on Nov 19, 2013
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